The Flamebird

© Flamingoes on Nata Salt Pan

I used to have a recurring dream, bordering on a nightmare, where I was standing on the edge of a lake watching millions of flamingos feeding in the shallows. The sky was stormy black, ominously beautiful, and the sun was breaking through onto the flamingos, creating an image of aching beauty.

I picked up my camera and focussed on the incredible scene - and my camera gave an error signal. As I looked down to see what the issue was with the camera - the flamingos took flight to showcase the greatest wilderness image I had ever seen.

Flamingos have fascinated me from the first time I saw a picture of one - to me they seemed almost ornamental, certainly not birds that fitted into the wild and untamed African landscape. But over time, and having seen them in a number of destinations across Africa, they became the subjects of a recurring dream.

Lakes of Fire

Early African explorers wrote of 'lakes of flames' and 'ribbons of fire' after seeing the millions of flamingos lining the shores of the lakes of Africa's Great Rift Valley and one of the most dramatic documentaries ever made in Africa, 'Year of the Flamebird', records the flamingos of the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana through a season.

The Flamingo's Secret Migrations across Africa

There is a frustrating lack of information on the migratory habits of the flamingos of Africa. What is known, however, is that when the numbers are down in East Africa the numbers are up in Southern Africa - but the exact route of the migration - if there is indeed a major migration - is still an unknown entity.

by Leigh Kemp

South and East African Safaris
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